Ken Bruce is to be replaced by Vernon Kay on his popular Radio 2 show, it has been revealed.
The veteran DJ, 72, will step down from his programme in April, with Kay signing a lucrative two-year deal.
The former Family Fortunes star, 48, has been substituting for Radio 2 hosts such as Scott Mills and Zoe Ball, and has proved hugely popular, the BBC reports.
It comes after a difficult year for the station, which has hemorrhaged 580,000 listeners after they ripped up their schedule and lost older stars such as Steve Wright and Paul O’Grady, as well as Bruce – whose slot has been hailed as the ‘biggest, most coveted’ job in radio.
A source said: ‘Ken’s show is the most listened to in Europe so Vernon has massive shoes to fill. But he’s such a warm, easy presenter and listeners have really taken to him.
Veteran DJ Ken Bruce is to step down from his popular BBC Radio 2 show in April and is set to be succeeded by Vernon Kay
Former Family Fortunes star Vernon Kay, 48, has been substituting for Radio 2 hosts such as Scott Mills and Zoe Ball, and has proved hugely popular
‘Vernon has a raft of fresh, new ideas and content, but will not be trying to reinvent the wheel here – he knows how important this show is to listeners, and wants them to feel welcome and safe.
‘Everyone at the Beeb is hugely excited to have him on board.’
A formal announcement is expected to be made in the coming days, while contracts are understood to have been signed last week.
Kay, who is married to Strictly presenter Tess Daly, will host his first show on April 3.
The news comes just weeks after Bruce announced he was leaving the BBC after more than 30 years.
He will sidestep to rival Greatest Hits radio and take along popular quiz segment Popmaster.
the station has been accused of ageism after a mass departure of some of its best-known hosts.
Steve Wright, 68, Paul O’Grady, 67, Vanessa Feltz, 60, and Simon Mayo, 64, have all bid adieu from the station in recent months.
BBC Radio 2 has been accused of ageism after the mass departure of some of its best-known hosts
A source told the Sun: ‘Ken is Europe’s most listened-to DJ and has nothing left to prove at the BBC.
‘He’s had an incredible time working there and is so grateful for the loyalty of all his listeners.
‘But in recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift in direction, with a drive to attract a younger audience.’
Last month, it was reported Bruce quit Radio 2 because he felt ‘unloved’ by bosses – who failed to reassure him over a new contract even though they wanted to keep him, say BBC insiders.
One source claimed that despite the desire to hang on to the DJ – Britain’s most popular radio host – a ‘mix-up’ meant he wasn’t told. This is said to have helped convince him to join commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio.
The unexpected announcement of the 71-year-old presenter’s departure is now said to have sparked discord at the BBC, as many regard it as completely avoidable.
One well-placed source said: ‘They definitely wanted to renew his contract but because of a mix-up nobody told him. He is a proud man and did not want to ask. When he told them he was going they were all saying, ‘but we were about to offer you a three-year deal’… Bit late.’
Ken Bruce, Britain’s most popular DJ, quit Radio 2 because he felt ‘unloved’ by bosses according to insiders
But another source close to the station disputed the contract claims, saying: ‘Ken was reassured on more than one occasion that his future on Radio 2 was safe.’
The Scottish star is believed to have been unsettled by the way the corporation had axed presenter Steve Wright’s long-running show last year amid a push to appeal to younger listeners.
Bruce is also said to have asked bosses to stop making him play ‘tuneless dance music’ but had not received any proper responses to his pleas.
The Radio 2 insider told the Mail: ‘Ken felt unloved. Part of the issue was being told our target audience is ‘mood mums’ but never hearing who they are or what they want! We have started to play a lot of tuneless dance music and Ken had begged them to stop making him play it but apparently his emails never got responses.’
The source, who accused bosses of being ‘asleep at the wheel’, added: ‘[Wright’s departure] just focused his mind. When they sacked Steve they didn’t consider the effect it might have on the rest of the presenters.’
Bruce has been at the BBC for 45 years – 31 of them presenting his Radio 2 mid-morning show. But loyal listeners have become increasingly fed-up at what they see as a shift to a younger audience.